Grace Berlin thrives through an abundance of passions and activities


Grace Berlin applies herself in a multitude of activities including crew which she is shown finishing a regatta for in this picture.

There are hundreds of unique sports played around the world, and while some are more absurd than others, one of the oddest and most unusual-sounding sports is the very one that sophomore Grace Berlin has tried herself: log rolling. 

“The most random [sport I’ve played] is log rolling,” Grace said. “Basically, it’s you and one other person standing on a log, and you literally just have to run and try to get the other person to fall off. It’s kind of embarrassing for me, honestly. I don’t think I should have admitted that, but I was at the YMCA once with my mom, and there was this lady in the pool who was running on a log, and I thought, ‘That looks interesting,’ so I did that for a few months.”

As proven by her participation in one of the most obscure sports imaginable, Grace has spent much of her life discovering new interests that she thinks she might enjoy. She has played dozens of sports and tried tons of hobbies, trying to find what she likes to do best. Someone could name almost any sport or activity, and she has probably tried it out for at least a month. From student council to knitting, Grace has tried it all. 

I think that they make me a better person when I’m around them, and it’s super important to me to surround myself with uplifting people like that.

— Grace Berlin

The anxious discomfort of starting the first year of high school is a feeling well-known to virtually anyone who has ever been in high school. Making friends, finding your way through the new building, and desperately trying to open your locker all while searching for a place to fit into the new environment is a very intimidating task. 

One of the most helpful things to have while sorting out your first few weeks of freshman year is someone close to you who has already gone through it themself. Luckily, Grace did. 

“I’m super close with my older sister [alumna] Abby [Berlin],” Grace said. “She graduated last year, so she was a senior when I was a freshman, and she was super helpful when I first started high school. I think she was part of the reason I was able to try out so many different things. I was participating in so much last year, like ski team and environmental club, that I honestly think I might have spread myself a little too thin, but it was all such good experience. I think that part of the reason why I was able to be so outgoing last year and try out so many different things was because I had [Abby] there for me. She was always in my corner.”

It’s always hard when one of the constants in life goes away. Since Abby’s graduation, school hasn’t been any more difficult for Grace, but it’s been a weird change to have to make.  

Nevertheless, the impact of Abby and Grace’s relationship on her first year of high school is something that Grace will carry with her throughout her years, both in school and out. Having her sister by her side during one of the most challenging transitions in life set Grace up for success in more ways than one. 

“I could talk about [my older sister] for hours,” Grace said. “We got really close during the pandemic, the same way a lot of families did, and luckily, we have been able to stay that close ever since. For her first couple of years in high school, Abby was part of this really big friend group, but it wasn’t the healthiest environment. It was sort of toxic, so she had to break off from that and spend some time with just a couple of really close friends. I think being able to watch her be somewhat alone and put herself back out there in new and different groups helped me realize that I could do that too. Watching her try a bunch of new things and make new friends helped me see that tons of communities here at FHC will welcome you with open arms no matter how much experience or skill you have.” 

Grace participates in so many activities both inside and outside of school that she doesn’t know where she would be without her older sister’s encouragement during her first year of high school. Even though she may have felt a little too overwhelmed at the beginning of her high school experience, Grace is grateful for what she learned while trying out all sorts of new hobbies and sports. 

This year, Grace is involved mainly with the crew team and student council along with a few other activities. Both of these undertakings have their main seasons at different points in the year, which often ends up meaning that Grace lacks free time throughout the entire school year instead of during just one season as is the case with most sports and clubs. 

Last year, Grace was trying out as many new things as possible in hopes of finding what she liked best. This year, she has succeeded. Even though it means she’s had to give up some of her free time, Grace is happy with the activities she finally settled on, and she finds joy in everything she participates in. 

“Crew is so much work,” Grace said. “It’s a huge time commitment, and I love it, of course, but the main reason I keep doing it is because of the people who do it with me. When you meet your teammates, you pretty much get super close with them instantly, and these are exactly the types of people who I want to be associated with and who I want to be close to. They’re honestly such good people. They’re all super kind and smart, and they make me feel so good about myself that I want to go back to crew the next day and keep practicing. I think that they make me a better person when I’m around them, and it’s super important to me to surround myself with uplifting people like that.

Unfortunately, no matter how much someone loves any activity they participate in, they’re always going to wish they had time to do other things. Wishing they had more free time can mean a wide variety of things for different people. 

It could mean wanting to spend more time with friends or taking some time alone to rest and hang out by yourself for a while. For Grace, however, any extra free time means another chance to try out something new.

Grace, after thinking back to her previous year and listening to her slightly-overworked freshman self, decided that in order to fully appreciate all the experiences she was engaging in, she would have to sacrifice some of the other hobbies she wished she could partake in. 

“I was kind of in the environmental club last year,” Grace said. “I’m not as much this year, but I wish I was able to be. I’m not [in the club this year] partly because I don’t have a ride, being an underclassman without a car, which can get frustrating sometimes. I’m also not able to because I don’t have the time to do another activity. I also wanted to be in the musical, and I tried out too, but I realized that I just don’t have enough time in my schedule. And ultimately, I’m really happy that I stuck with crew because I feel like if I had done the musical and then joined crew halfway through the season, I wouldn’t have bonded nearly as well with all of my teammates as I have.”

Sometimes, Grace wishes she had a little bit more time to relax and recuperate before another long week of school. She said that as she advances in grade levels and adds to her already hectic schedule, she’s a little nervous about being able to find time for everything. However, she’s still confident in her ability to adapt and overcome any challenges presented to her in the upcoming years. 

Grace agrees with a point that many people who have been busy for the majority of their lives can relate to. Even though she’s stressed sometimes, she doesn’t know what to do with herself when she doesn’t have any activities pre-planned for her day.

“I constantly wish I had less to do,” Grace said, “but then I just kind of get over it; I’ll always have time to relax later. There are certain times of the year when I’m so much more busy than others. I always really struggle with finding a balance between [having too much time and too little time]. Whenever I’m doing too much, I’m always like, ‘Oh my gosh, I wish I just had more time to myself,’ but then I don’t have as much to do, and I’m suddenly extremely bored. So, I’m constantly trying to find a balance between the two. I don’t think that I’ve found that balance yet, and I don’t know if I ever really will, but I’ll keep trying my best.”

Grace not having enough scheduled activities to participate in isn’t the only scenario that causes her to become bored. In fact, one of the main reasons why she has tried such an extreme number of activities is because of the simple fact that she gets bored with most sports and hobbies extremely quickly.

Crew, student council, environmental club, knitting, volleyball, soccer, theater, musicals, jobs and internships at Meijer Gardens, and, of course, log rolling, are all things that Grace either has participated in, is currently engaged in, or is planning to be involved within her near future, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a very social and outgoing person, Grace relishes any opportunity to talk to her fellow classmates and spend time getting to know them. For her, this could mean anything from hanging out with her best friends at crew regattas on the weekends to interviewing people in her grade who she’s never spoken to before in order to better understand the class she’s representing as a member of the student council.

Without her sister’s encouragement and her drive to try new things, meet new people, and discover as many odd new hobbies and sports as possible, Grace would never have discovered all of the things she loves doing the most and all of the things that make her happiest. 

“It sounds so corny,” Grace said, “but you really can’t let your worries about how people are going to react stop you from doing anything. If I was worried about how every other person was going to react to me doing certain things, I would just stay at home all the time. And maybe, that would be nice every once in a while, but I would never have joined student council if I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this person is going to think I’m lame,’ and now, student council is one of my favorite things ever. The reality of the situation is that no one actually cares that much, and if you psych yourself out of doing something because you’re worried about what someone else will think of you, then you’re losing so many opportunities to find new things you have the potential of loving for the rest of your life.”